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It’s Alive!


Fresh yeast smells like beer, who knew? It feels like a softer, smoother playdough when you crumble it through your hands to make bread. Take a look in the oval bowl on the right.

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I made my first loaf of Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread this week. You basically mix stoneground wholemeal flour and stoneground white flour…

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Then, separately, you mix water at blood heat (hot, but not too hot and not too cold. You basically stick your finger in the water and it should feel warm) and treacle (or honey or sugar, whatever your sweetener is). You crumble in yeast and wait for the excitement! The mixture should have a frothy appearance before it’s ready to mix with the flour. As Rory explained, yeast needs moisture, warmth and nourishment to make it work. So, the warm water gives it the moisture and warmth, and the sugar or treacle gives it the nourishment. The fresh yeast feeds on the sugar which leads bubbles of carbon dioxide to form and the bread to rise.

Can you make out the froth?

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So you mix your yeast mixture into the flour with additional water and then, you get to stir it all around with your hand. I use a big white bowl and make my hand into a claw and work from there. It’s a loose-wet dough, so too wet to knead (probably why it’s our first yeast bread — hard to mess up!). Anyway, then you pour the mixture into a greased tin and cover it while you wait for it to rise. Just as the bread reaches the top of the tin, you bake it in the oven. And voila…(these are Rory’s, but mine looked very similar. I swear!)

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How could I post on yeast and not include my favorite yeast quote? —

“Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.”
— Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions


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